Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lady Chatterley's Lover, D.H. Lawrence (1928)

Gearing up for Banned Books Week, I thought I'd better get to this overdue post on a now-favorite banned book of mine, Lady Chatterley's Lover.

My sorority alumnae book club selected this title--okay, drew it out of a hat (who would have honestly picked this) because I suggested it for the mix--as an alternative to 50 Shades of Grey. It was one of the best book clubs we've had! The conversations were honest and more uninhibited than I would have expected for a group of four women all at very different stages of their lives. 

I wish I had written this post sooner (we met back in May) because we did a great job of discussing the similarities and differences between Lady Chatterley and a lot of other books. Two of us who did read 50 Shades talked at length (ad nauseam, really) about how damned similar we found the title's namesake, Lady Constance Chatterley and the other horrible character, Anastasia. Sadly, I don't remember the legitimate conversations we had other than that. 

There was a lot of talk about social and class commentary, and the differing and frequently changing view points of each character. The book had many characters at various class points--the Lord and Lady, the nurse, the townspeople, the gamekeeper--which created a complex presentation of persons, complicated even further by their altering beliefs. For instance, Connie goes on a tirade about the miners, but then can be very sympathetic and supportive of the little people who work on her estate. Many characters in the book show the same inconsistencies, regardless of their place in the world. I marked page 171, where a deep display of lower-class hatred appeared. The miners are less human and more "creature,"being referred to as "men not men, but animals of coal and iron and clay," the "fauna of the elements" and "weird inhuman beauty of minerals."

Mostly, we talked about how interesting the whole concept of the book is: a novel about sex, 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Watchmen (1986-87)

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

A graphic novel originally published in 12 comic book issues, it is also a movie I saw (and hated) at the midnight premiere my senior year of college. Basically all I remembered was an awkward and seemingly pointless sex scene in a weird machine.

Well, that was in this, too, unfortunately. I just didn't hate it as much this time.

Two close friends of mine said I absolutely had to read this--not only because it's a great book, but also because it's exactly where I should start a dive into comic books and graphic novels.

I hadn't read a graphic novel since my adolescent lit class, and this one was definitely a different experience than even those. There was just so much going on. At some points three stories were happening at once: one in the captions, one in the images, and one in the secondary captions. (Obviously, I lack the proper terminology to discuss this in a scholarly manner.) But I did like it. And although I didn't try to critically read the novel--my film/game/super hero/comic genius friend had all kinds of smart things to tell me about it--I did snag a few bits I really enjoyed.

Love this song reflected in the ad
"The dusk reeks of fornication and bad consciences."

"I like electronic music. That's a very superhero-y thing to like, I suppose, isn't it? [...] Oh, and I've heard some interesting new music from Jamaica... a sort of hybrid between electronic music and reggae. It's a fascinating study in the new musical forms generated when a largely pre-technological culture is given access to modern recording techniques without the technological preconceptions that we've allowed to accumulate, limiting our vision. It's called dub music. You'd like it, I'm sure."

"If somebody wants to call me the world's best-groomed man, then hey, that's okay too."

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes."
[who watches the watchmen.]

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Banned Books Week 2012

September 30 - October 6, 2012 is Banned Books Week - and as an English major and lover of literature, this is a week-long holiday!

My parents have absolutely no idea what it is--why, where, when, and what books have been banned are all unknown to them. Although I could ramble off a list of banned books when they asked me, and talk a little about who challenges books, I'm still no scholar. I'm hoping that my knowledge of the subject will grow (as I hope awareness of the cause will grow, too).

A number of books we consider classics have been banned from, or challenged by, libraries and schools. This list below includes banned books that are currently ranked in the "Best 100" and "Rival 100" novels lists. They're many books that you read in high school and college. Books that you've always said you should read, but maybe haven't. Maybe knowing they have a sordid past will spice them up and peak your interest again. Perhaps enough to read one in support of Banned Books Week.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger 
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck 
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee 

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker 
Ulysses, by James Joyce 
Beloved, by Toni Morrison 
The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding 
1984, by George Orwell 

Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov 
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck 
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller 
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley 
Animal Farm, by George Orwell 

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway 
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner 
A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway 
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston 
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison 
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison 
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell 
Native Son, by Richard Wright 
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey 
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut 
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway 
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London 
Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin 
All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren 
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien 
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair 
Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence 
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess 
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin 
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote 
The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie 
Sophie's Choice, by William Styron 
Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence 
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut 
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles 
Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs 
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh 
Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence 
The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer 
Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller 
An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser 
Rabbit, Run, by John Updike 

The books in green are ones that I've read. The highlighted Vonnegut novel is the one I've selected to read this year for Banned Books Week, thanks to Out of Print's book club. 

You can find Banned Books Week on the web via Facebook and at their official site. Visiting will take you to the American Library Association's website with even more links and information regarding the history of Banned Books Week, and the banning of challenging of books in the United States. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Reading List: The Summer of Dangerous Reading

"The Summer of Dangerous Reading"
A reading list from More magazine, July/August 2012

1 | Live for Love

[Have an Affair]
Motherland by Amy Sohn

[Follow Your Heart]
The Right-Hand Shore by Christopher Tilghman
Before the Plan by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa

[Get Out of Your Rut]
The Forever Marriage by Ann Bauer
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

2 | Take Center Stage

[Rub Shoulders with an Icon]
Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews
Marilyn by Lois Banner
Dreaming in French by Alice Kaplan

3 | Rock the Home Front

[Fix Your Family]
The Red House by Mark Haddon
The World Without You by Joshua Henkin

[Rewrite the Past]
Elsewhere, California by Dana Johnson
The Secret Life of Objects by Dawn Raffel
Lizz Free or Die by Lizz Winstead

4 | Do a 180 on Your Life

[Switch Careers]
Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

[Indulge in Some Villainy]
I, Iago by Nicole Galland

[Flirt with Disaster]
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Inside by Alix Ohlin
The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams

[Find Your Inner Beast]
The Lion is In by Delia Ephron